Pelicans trade for DeMarcus Cousins, Kings get underwhelming haul

Boogie to that team for that return on that night? Who saw this coming?

We are not going to trade DeMarcus Cousins, they said. Raising an eyebrow at anything said by Kings management is commonplace these days. But for the New Orleans Pelicans to emerge as the prime suitor (at least in the eyes of Sacramento’s decision maker, Vivek Ranidive) seemed improbable at best. But here we are.

Boogie Cousins and Omri Casspi are heading to New Orleans in exchange for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, NOP’s 2017 1st round pick (protected 1–3) and NOP’s 2017 2nd round pick.

Because Sacramento’s roster was full, they had to first waive a player as they sent out two players and agreed to bring back three. Matt Barnes reportedly will get the axe. The veteran wing signed a 2 year/$12.5 million deal in the summer of 2016; ‘17-’18 would have been a player option.

The immediate and short term future for New Orleans is as clear as ever stacked up against recent years as it is foggy. GM Dell Demps is fighting for his job and ownership wants a playoff berth. Make the playoff push now and maybe steal two from the Warriors in the first round. Bring Jrue Holiday back, find help on the wing and rise to the middle of the pack in 2018.

Seems possible, right? But almost immediately after acquiring Cousins, New Orleans is thinking about his next contract. Would he be willing to sign an extension with the Pels this summer? If he waits it out to put the pressure on the front office, one first round series appearance in 2017 may not be enough. All those good vibes will be dead and gone if the roster doesn’t improve around its stars.

Cousins and 2017 All Star Game MVP Anthony Davis make for an interesting on court fit worth tracking. Both have the range to space out some and can get their own. Head Coach Alvin Gentry could do some staggering with the two bigs to prop up the offense across all 48 minutes.

Depending on the discussion you’ve been dropped into, staggering has run its course as an NBA buzzword. Yet the fact remains: New Orleans needs to squeeze all it can out of Terrence Jones, Donotas Montiejunas, Dante Cunningham and Solomon Hill minutes. Before all that, New Orleans needs Jrue Holiday to stay healthy.

The bottom of the West is still littered with teams that want in. Save for some unnamed Kings sources that think otherwise now that Cousins is gone, one of those teams will be dropping toward the bottom real quick to join the Lakers and Suns.

Vlade Divac said some interesting things to the media on Monday, namely that he had received a better trade package for Cousins two days later. People are in a rush to jump on the Kings. First, I’d rather focus on the other NBA teams that did or didn’t jump in to trump New Orleans’ offer.

The silver lining to this all: Vivek is absolutely enthralled with Buddy Hield. That is almost a separate issue. Nobody else can get all the way inside Vivek’s head, and the people around him can only do so much. We know that some of these NBA teams cannot be saved because of who is running them. But if the rest of the league had caught wind that Hield and just one 1st round pick were the best out there, why didn’t some of these teams take more of a swing?

  • Chicago: Was this a missed opportunity to make things right to whichever extent possible with Jimmy Butler by simply overwhelming him with a major addition? They have all their own 1sts moving forward. How about Taj Gibson + Nikola Mirotic + Michael Carter-Williams and two firsts? Even though he’s expiring, I’d have thrown my salesman cap on to sell Mirotic as a stretch 4 moving forward for a team that has been starting Anthony Tolliver in that slot. The Kings can promise a prominent role and would have matching rights.
  • Orlando: Another front office under fire! Does Vlade Divac have a crush on Nikola Vucevic? The Magic have expirings and maybe the Kings could be sold on rehabbing Mario Hezonja, given all their talk about culture lately. Yup, this team has too many problems too. And they have long term money invested in Bismack Biyombo. But if Biyombo is the center on a four year deal you’re panicking to dump, then, well, at least you aren’t this next team.
  • Lakers: We’re hearing left and right that they didn’t want to put Brandon Ingram in the deal. I’m fine with that. Restraint! From the Lakers! Magic must be the voice of reason!
  • Detroit: I’m careful with this one because it was only peddled by un-verified, spammy bot team rumor accounts from what I’ve seen. Would somebody more connected verify whether Andre Drummond and a first was on the table? I’m curious.
  • Boston: The elephant in the room. Above all else, I think they want their star to be on the wing.
  • Dallas, Houston: Honorable Mention, ‘We have draft picks to throw your way and a healthy organization but not the recent lottery pick’.
  • Phoenix: A sneaky surprise to have not made a push. Perhaps Robert Sarver sees the light now. They have multiple young recent lottery selections to build a package around if Sacramento would have stomached Brandon Knights deal, which actually could make some sense for them moving forward.
  • Portland: Honorable Mention, ‘More by the day are throwing Dame or CJ into the trade machine because our summer spending spree has darkened our outlook but we clearly aren’t going to blink’.
  • Indiana: Honorable Mention, Late Addition, ‘Because we are apparently in pursuit of Brook Lopez now and are desperate to beat down all the Paul George chatter’.

The Kings look to be a mess for a long, long time. Rudy Gay has even more reason to opt out this summer if he needed it at all. Darren Collison is probably their best healthy player at the moment. Sacramento can aim to tank the rest of the way, needing their pick to fall within the top 10 so it doesn’t go to Chicago. And even if they keep it, the Sixers hold swap rights. Philadelphia gets their 2019 1st, too, via the infamous Nik Stauskas trade.

The Kings must tank successfully and absolutely nail both that pick and the 1st they have from New Orleans. Looking at the current roster, you’d hope we can see Willie Cauley-Stein’s profile rise closer to ‘5 that can protect the basket and move his feet in space’ image of him that we fell in love with. Skal Labissiere and Malachi Richardson getting more run would be useful, too.

The Pelicans know what needs to be done from here. The attempts to incite panic may have been premature to this point over making the playoffs. They had AD locked into an extension. But Boogie is at or approaching his peak right now.

Two superstar big men joining forces won’t get much sympathy, regardless of the supporting pieces around them. Cousins is faced with an opportunity for some image rehab. Hopefully he and Davis can lighten the night-to-night burden for one another, too.

One trade that seemingly came together rather suddenly gave us two polar opposites. Go ahead and pick up that League Pass subscription you’ve been wanting to see the beginning of this AD/Boogie partnership. From a safe distance, you can also observe a franchise in Sacramento already rebuilding in a brand new arena.

We haven’t even hit the trade deadline yet, folks. I’ve feared for a long time that the trade market had reached complete gridlock. We already got a blockbuster and plenty of time for more. Which of the other big names is most likely to be moved, if any at all?


Photos via New Orleans Advocate, RealGM